Tanking a season is almost like common sense, right? If you’re stuck and have nowhere to go, you start over in hopes of drafting a franchise player and going from there. Well, I have news for you: the Milwaukee Bucks actually do not believe in tanking. Good for them. I like that spirit. The following is a 2013-14 season preview for the Milwaukee Bucks:
Guards (B): Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo, Luke Ridnour, Gary Neal, Nate Wolters
As you can see, the Bucks have a brand new backcourt. They went from a very offensive-minded backcourt (in Jennings and Ellis) to a fairly similar, but new-look, backcourt. It’s as simple as this: they have Knight instead of Jennings and they have Mayo instead of Ellis. Look, I know Jennings got a ton of criticism about his shot selection. But Knight is a clear downgrade from Jennings as he isn’t able to create offense the way Jennings could. I like Mayo a lot, as a scorer, but he can’t always be depended on. Ridnour and Neal are both great backups. When it comes to Mayo, Ridnour, and Neal, defenses surely won’t be able to sag off them as they’re dangerous from outside.
Forwards (B-): Caron Butler, Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino, John Henson, Khris Middleton/Antetokounmpo
Caron Butler is still a very skilled player but is clearly past his prime and no better than an adequate starter. Ilyasova has shined bright at some moments in the last two years but injuries have given him a bit of trouble. Those two at the forward spots, Milwaukee definitely lacks the athleticism most teams have in those positions. Ilyasova will be a big X-factor for this respectable Milwaukee squad. Henson could, someday, turn into Milwaukee’s future power forward. He and Larry Sanders could make a very effective duo if Henson learns how to fully utilize his length on the defensive end.
Centers (B): Larry Sanders, Zaza Pachulia, Ekpe Udoh (IR)
Larry Sanders emerged last year as the best shot blocker in the NBA, consistently making crucial stops near the basket. Guards who like to attack the rim must beware when Larry Sanders is on the court as Sanders is capable of getting his hands on almost anything. Although he doesn’t have much of a post game, he’s usually pretty good at hitting short to mid-range shots if left open. I like Pachulia as a backup. He’s a highly aggressive center who loves to bang bodies and get dirty down low. Udoh is targeting a December return.
Defense (B): Continuing off what I said about Sanders, Milwaukee’s defense starts and finishes with the dominant shot-blocker. Not only does Sanders block shots, but his presence in the middle is always worrisome for the opposing team. Sanders will become even more of a factor as he continues to learn the game and possibly become a Tim Duncan-type defender. For the most part, Sanders will be what keeps the Bucks’ defense up to par.
Shooting (A-): On paper, the Bucks are actually full of sharp shooters (Mayo, Ridnour, Neal, Ilyasova, etc.) They will need to hit outside shots on a consistent basis to prove their worth to the rest of the Eastern Conference. Shooting is the single area that has the potential to advance Milwaukee into one of the last playoff seeds.
Experience (B): Milwaukee has a handful of players who have been around in this league long enough to know how to be successful. However, three of it’s five starters are new to the organization as well as a few backup players. Therefore, it may take some time to gel together.
Standing - 11th East: I’m not doubting the Bucks have pretty solid talent and they’re likely a better team than they were last season. I just don’t think they have that one player who can lead them to become a winning team. I can see the Bucks sitting just short of .500 at the season’s end.
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